Air Attack 5xx Series?

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SloScanMan_01

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Reading the back logs, I see that Air Attack 505 is the reserve from McClellan. Last Year, I started hearing Air Attack 501 operating from Paso Robles AAB, and now I hear Air Attacks 501 and 502 switching off as relief on the Indian fire near Fort Hunter Liggett. Does anybody have additional info on these two "new" Air Attacks?
Where are they based? Are they frontline, or reserve? Does anybody have a list of statewide Air Attack Assignments? Here is what I have so far:
AA340 Paso Robles San Luis Unit
AA430 Fresno Fresno-Kings Unit
AA460 Hollister Monterey- San Benito Unit
AA410 Porterville Tulare Unit
AA490 Bakersfield Kern County Fire
AA13 Porterville Sequoia National Forest
AA07 Santa Maria Los Padres National Forest

an update to this list, or a newer, larger list posted to the DB is very much welcome and appreciated.
 

Kingscup

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The 500 series air attacks are training air attacks. It sounds like they were training new people on this fire. I believe they can also be used as back up planes too. It is just like the Cal Fire Academy engines are numbered 55XX series.

Doesn't every Cal Fire operational unit have an AA which the numbering is based off the Cal Fire operational unit? I don't know enough about the northern part of the state to know that for sure.

Aren't 07 and 13 tankers and not AA?
 
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Eng74

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KRN AA490 has been OOS for about the last two seasons. A new one might be inservice by the end of the year or next year.
 

SCPD

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The 500 series air attacks are training air attacks. It sounds like they were training new people on this fire. I believe they can also be used as back up planes too. It is just like the Cal Fire Academy engines are numbered 55XX series.

Doesn't every Cal Fire operational unit have an AA which the numbering is based off the Cal Fire operational unit? I don't know enough about the northern part of the state to know that for sure.

Aren't 07 and 13 tankers and not AA?

Air Attack 07 and Air Attack 13 are U.S. Forest Service air attack units. Here is the lineup in California:

01 Angeles NF (National Forest) working from Fox Field
05 Klamath NF Scott Valley
06 Lassen NF Chester
07 Los Padres NF Santa Barbara
12 San Bernardino NF San Bernardino
13 Sequoia NF Porterville
507 North Ops Redding (Infrared equipped)
509 South Ops Fox Field (Infrared equipped)
15 Sierra NF Fresno
17 Tahoe NF Grass Valley
490 Kern County Meadows Field
110 Cal Fire MEU Ukiah
120 Cal Fire HUU Rohnerville
140 Cal Fire LNU Sonoma
210 Cal Fire BTU Chico
230 Cal Fire NEU Grass Valley
240 Cal Fire RDD Redding
310 Cal Fire RRU Hemet/Ryan
330 Cal Fire MVU Ramona
340 Cal Fire SLU Paso Robles
410 Cal Fire TUU Porterville
430 Cal Fire FKU Fresno
440 Cal Fire TCU Columbia
460 Cal Fire BEU Hollister

The numbers for the Forest Service are based on the Forest number within the Pacific Southwest Region of that agency and are more or less alphabetical, with the exception being that the Six Rivers National Forest is Forest #10 and there is not a Forest #18, but the Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit is Forest #19.

The numbers for Cal Fire are based upon the first two digits of the Operational Unit the aircraft is based in.

The Forest Service also has 10 lead planes and the unit designators are Lead 5-0 through Lead 5-9 and are not in any particular order as to location. All of them are at Redding or Fox Field. The BLM has one lead plane based at Fox Field and it is Lead B-5. CDF has two lead planes, C-1 at Redding and C-2 at Victorville.

Air Attack ships carry the pilot and the air attack supervisor. Lead planes only carry the pilot. Air attack ships are required to be used on any incident where there is more than one aircraft being used (not counting the air attack ship). Air attack ships are generally utilized for routine recon on the Forests where they are stationed.

National Forests and BLM Districts without an Air Attack ship utilize call-when-needed recon aircraft for routine patrols, mostly done after receiving lightning. They carry a pilot and an observer, whose qualifications were not anything formal when I worked for the Forest Service other than being able to locate one's position in the air on a map, and not get sick in the process while flying in often bumpy air and circling tightly over terrain. I was quite good at it when I started my career in 1973, but gradually had to give it up as the "nausea budget" I brought with me for each flight became smaller and smaller the older I became. Recon ships are identified as "Recon xx" starting with Recon 10, 11, and 12 on the Angeles (only if the Air Attack ship is working an incident and not available for recon) and continuing alphabetically through all the Forests with each Forest having three numbers. The BLM has the numbers Recon 64, 65, and 66 assigned for use on the Susanville or Northern California field offices, Recon 67, 68, and 69 for use on Bakersfield field offices, and 70, 71, and 72 for use on the California Desert District. Recons can be used for other than fire purposes. On the Inyo National Forest we used Recon 19 in the winter to conduct aerial patrols for illegal snowmobile use in closed areas and wilderness.

This is current information from the California Interagency Mobilization Plan for 2008, which is available on the Internet.
 
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SCPD

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Here is some additional information from a couple of points I raised above.

Lead planes are used to fly the flight path of an air tanker before the air tanker flies it. This is done to make sure that the drop is effective by showing the air tanker pilot the path and timing of the drop as well as to detect any adverse flying conditions such as clear air turbulence, updrafts, and downdrafts. It is easier for the lead plane to pull out of an unexpected downdraft than it is for a loaded air tanker, so this trial run is done for safety purposes. If a lead plane is not on the incident, especially when their is only one aircraft on a fire and it is an air tanker, the first run might take a fairly conservative path and elevation. Sometimes this is not as effective as it is when a lead plane is there. Lead planes are Forest Service owned aircraft with permanent employee pilots. These pilots fly administrative flights and conduct training in the winter.

Recons: when I was working for the Forest Service the observer did not have to have any qualifications on their Interagency Incident Qualifications Card, or "Red Card" as it is commonly known. The Forest Service had just started requiring a yearly refresher course on flying in Forest Service owned or contracted aircraft in the mid to late 90's. It was required for all employees likely to use these aircraft, whether that was for fire or other purposes. Resource management personnel often flew for for such purposes as wildlife census, insect damage, off highway vehicle enforcement, grazing administration, and other reasons. They had to have the yearly refresher for using Forest Service owned or contracted aircraft. For obvious reasons, recon aircraft are always "high winged." Sometimes we were invited to join a flight being conducted by a state agency, such as the Fish and Game (or Game and Fish) agency for a state or for the state forestry agency when looking at insect and disease damage. We were not allowed to fly with them unless their aircraft was carded by the Forest Service. Forest Service recons usually utilized local airport private flight services.

All aircraft and the pilots used by the Forest Service, whether they be helicopters, air tankers, or heli-tankers had to be "carded." Air tankers and heli-tankers had to be carded. This involved periodic inspection of the aircraft and the flying qualifications of the pilots. If an aircraft was carrying Forest Service employees it had to be carded and so did the pilot. A similar program exists in the Interior Department for the BLM, Park Service, Fish and Wildlife Service, and BIA and used to be called the Department of Interior Office of Aircraft Services or "OAS." They have changed names and I don't recall what OAS is called now. I believe that the Forest Service required Forest Service carding even when aircraft and pilots were OAS carded, but I'm not sure. I'm not sure if they still have this duplication of effort. I just got on the aircraft dispatch sent for me or my crew to fly in.

Military aircraft flying "MAFFS" missions dropping retardant did not get carded, and none of their other aircraft or pilots did either. We were not allowed to fly in military aircraft except under very unusual circumstances, such as during the Yellowstone Fires in 1988. I was able to fly in a C-140, a Chinook, and a Apache that year and it was a great experience. I had an Army platoon for a fire crew for 5 weeks that year and all crew bosses with military crews were given special permission to fly in military aircraft that year.

Although observers in recon aircraft did not have to have any formal qualifications being able to work the radio, plot an exact position on a map, give instructions to the pilot as to where to fly, and communicate with responding ground forces, quite often all at the same time, required a fairly savvy person. It is not easy to be able to keep track of exactly where you are on a map or what exactly you are looking at on the ground. It requires a great deal of map skills combined with a very good knowledge of the ground. Not everyone who had traveled the ground extensively had the skills to recognize it from the air. In my experience you had to travel on the ground a lot and then take frequent flights over that same ground before you became good at being an observer. You had to be one of those people with the talent to always know where you are and able to relate it to a map. The geographically illiterate did not make good observers.

I will list the numbers assigned to recon aircraft in California as my last post might have been hard to figure out. Remember that on Forests that have an air attack ship, those ships usually do the routine fire recons on the Forest. Those Forests only have recon numbers assigned to them in case the air attack ship is working another assignment. Like hotshot crews, air tankers, and helicopters, air attack ships are national resources and under the control of NIFC (National Interagency Fire Center - Boise, Idaho). Those resources routinely work incidents all over the country and can be gone for long periods. Three numbers are given each Forest or BLM District in case they have more than one ship up in the air at the same time. This is not usually the case.

Angeles NF Recon 10, 11, 12
Cleveland NF Recon 13, 14, 15
Eldorado NF Recon 16, 17, 18
Inyo NF Recon 19, 20, 21
Klamath NF Recon 22, 23, 24
Lassen NF Recon 25, 26, 27
Los Padres NF 28, 29, 30
Mendocino NF 31, 32, 33
Modoc NF 34, 35, 36
Sequoia NF 37, 38, 39
Plumas NF 40, 41, 42
San Bernardino NF 43, 44, 45
Six Rivers 46, 47, 48
Shasta-Trinity NF 49, 50, 51
Sierra NF 52, 53, 54
Stanislaus NF 55, 56, 57
Tahoe NF 58, 59, 60
Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit 61, 62, 63
Susanville BLM (northern Calif. Field Offices) 64, 65, 66
Bakersfield BLM (central Calif. Field Offices) 67, 68, 69
California Desert District BLM (southern Calif. Field Offices) 70, 71, 72

While I'm at it, I might as well list the helicopters as well. Ships and crews qualified to accomplish "heli-rappels" are listed as "RQ." This is a method of unloading crew members when a heli spot is not available, so the ship hovers while the crew members rappel off the landing struts. FR means "fast rope" and I'm not familiar with that technique enough to explain it. I would guess it involves lowering people at the end of a rope where the rope is fed by someone and/or something on the ship. A rappel, by contrast involves a person lowering themselves on a rope fixed to the ship. In that case the person doing the rappel controls the speed of the descent. The location of the helicopter's base is shown after the unit it is assigned to. A * is shown for crews of 18 or more.

502 RQ Klamath NF Scott Valley Airport
503 RQ Klamath NF Happy Camp Helibase
506 RQ* Shasta-Trinity NF Trinity Airport
510 RQ* Lassen NF Chester Airport
512 RQ Plumas NF Quincy Airport
514 RQ Tahoe NF White Cloud Helibase
516 FR* Eldorado NF Big Hill Helibase
517 RQ Stanislaus NF Bald Mtn. Helibase
520 RQ Sierra NF Trimmer Helibase
522 RQ Sequoia NF Peppermint Helibase
523 RQ Sequoia NF Kernville Airport
525 RQ Inyo NF Independence Airport
527 RQ Los Padres NF Arroyo Grande Helibase
528 RQ Los Padres NF Santa Ynez Airport
530 Los Padres NF Chuchapate Helibase
531 RQ Angeles NF Chilao Helibase
534 RQ San Bernardino NF Heaps Peak Helibase
535 San Bernardino NF Keenwild Helibase
538 Cleveland NF Ramona Airport
551 RQ Yosemite NP Crane Flat Helibase
552 Sequoia-Kings Canyon NP Ash Mtn. Helibase
553 BLM Susanville Ravendale Helibase
554 BLM California Desert District Apple Valley Airport

Helicopter 555 at Keene is no longer operating.

Now for Cal Fire

101 MEU Howard Forest
102 HUU Kneeland
104 LNU Boggs Mtn.
106 SCU Alma
202 LMU Bieber
205 TGU Vina
301 Hemet/Ryan
303 MVU Gillespie
305 BDU Prado
404 TCU Columbia
406 BEU Bear Valley

Here are the bases for the Type I Helicopters or "heli-tankers"

Angeles NF Van Nuys Airport
San Bernardino NF San Bernardino Airport
Cleveland NF Hemet Airport
Sierra NF Mariposa Airport
Sequoia NF Porterville Airport
Los Padres NF Casitas Helibase
Eldorado NF Pacific Ranger Station
Mendocino NF Orland
Lassen NF Chester Airport
Klamath NF Siskiyou Airport

The Type I helicopters are on a contract that moves them around the country and around California depending on the date. I don't know the dates or the numbers of these helicopters as that information is no longer available to the public, just like fixed wing air tankers.
 
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scannerboy02

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I was on a fire yesterday in Placer County and they assigned tanker 910 the DC-10 to it but the lead aircraft a Cobra helicopter named "Charlie 1" diverted them after it did a fly over.
 

SCPD

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SLO County AA

Acording to CalFire's Cad AA 340 and AA 502 bare staffed at Paso Air Attack Base (80)
 

JayMojave

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Hello All:

Great information in this tread. I am located near Fox Field in Lancaster Ca. The USFS operates at times around a dozen air tanker aircaft there. And it gets real busy when a local brush fire happens.
I don't have all the frequencies yet, but monitoring Fox Field Tower at 120.3 MHz is a good indicator when USFS traffic is busy.

The USFS has their own Tower at Fox Field with a couple of communication antennas, but I don't know the frequencies used there.

I am not seeing any list for the Fox Field USFS Air Tankers, but believe I have listened to a few while not realizing who there were. I have looked over the internet not seeing a list of frequencies.

Does anyone have a list or web site for the USFS Fox Field Air Tanker Frequencies, they can point me to?? Thanks for any help.

Jay in the Great Mojave Desert
 

SloScanMan_01

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Jay, Fox Field AAB should be on the standard AAB frequency, 123.975. Yesterday, I noted Single Engine Air Tankers with the IDs of Tanker 430 and Tanker 498 doing numerous reloads at Paso Robles AAB. Anybody have info on these guys? I also noted two twin engine aircraft, Id'ing themselves to the air base tower as Bravo 2 and Bravo 51, with FAA N numbers of N23W and N30W, respectively. A search of the FAA database reveals these to be twin engine Beechcraft Kingairs assigned to Dynamic Aviation out of Bridgewater, VA. Dynamic's website says they have facilities in California, Virginia, and other states, and that they offer Kingairs as CWN Air Attacks/ Leadplanes. Anybody know if these Kingairs are based in California, or are they based elsewhere?
 

JayMojave

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Hello Slo Scan Man:

Thanks for the frequency there, thats a big help. I drove over the Fox Field yesterday and saw a VHF 1/4 wave ground plane on the USFS Tower. The USFS has a *****en USFS Plack there, should have taked a picture of it.

I am thinking the Tower at Fox Field will give the USFS Air Attack Tanker Aircraft the go for take off then switch over to Jusha on 124.55, then over to the ground or air controllers for the water drop.

I have herd some traffic on this but wasn't sure what I was listening to. Now with the right frequencies and a couple of custom made VHF Air Band and Hi Band VHF Antennas I am ready.

Thanks for the help.

Jay in the Mojave
 
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Duster

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Now for Cal Fire

101 MEU Howard Forest
102 HUU Kneeland
104 LNU Boggs Mtn.
106 SCU Alma
202 LMU Bieber
205 TGU Vina
301 Hemet/Ryan
303 MVU Gillespie
305 BDU Prado
404 TCU Columbia
406 BEU Bear Valley
To expound on Smokey's info on CAL FIRE numbering for aircraft, it's like this:

Fixed-wing air attack craft: Three-digit numbers, the first two are the unit identifiers (AA210, Unit 21/Butte) [Just as Smokey said].

Rotor-winged craft: Three-digit numbers, the first and last identify the unit of origin (Copter205, Unit 25/Tehama-Glenn)

The placement of the zero in the number differentiate between fixed- and rotor-winged craft.
 

BlueZebra

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And for a little spice-

CalFire has just announced a 60 day contract with a DC-7 (Type 1 Airtanker) called T66, to be stationed at Chico. The Tanker went on line today.
 

SCPD

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To expound on Smokey's info on CAL FIRE numbering for aircraft, it's like this:

Fixed-wing air attack craft: Three-digit numbers, the first two are the unit identifiers (AA210, Unit 21/Butte) [Just as Smokey said].

Rotor-winged craft: Three-digit numbers, the first and last identify the unit of origin (Copter205, Unit 25/Tehama-Glenn)

The placement of the zero in the number differentiate between fixed- and rotor-winged craft.
Interesting, I had not thought of that for quite some time. I never worked a fire where a CDF helicopter was being used. I wonder how they distinguished CDF ships with Region 5 Forest Service ships when CDF had 6 regions? That has been quite some time, but was the case when I first transferred to the Toiyabe National Forest, Bridgeport Ranger District in 1981. I guess it really doesn't matter now as there are only two CDF regions, which was a consolidation of the previous 4 regions.
 

Lt51506

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When CDF had a Region 6, they went as follows:

CDF 6000 series
6100 / 6200 Riverside
6400 / 6500 San Bernardino
6700 / 6800 San Diego

I don't remember what the unit #'s were for the few CDF units in Orange County or Imperial County, as well as who exactly had the 6300's and 6600's.

The AA at Ryan AAB was "AIRCO 61".
 

JayMojave

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Ok monitoring around here listening to 123.975 the Fox Field (Lancaster Ca) Air Attack Tanker Base.
These other frequencies also have Air Attack Tanker Traffic.
122.975, 170.600 called "Tanker Channel 4"

Anyone else got frequencies??

Jay in the Mojave
 

JayMojave

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Hello All:

Ok I made a mistake on the frequency 170.6 MHz, it is not Air Attack Ch 4, but is a USFS Station in Porterville Ca I am hearing on 170.6. They did have traffic on this frequency talking to air attach aircraft. And made a comment to a "air attack ch 4" frequency.

I am in Lancaster Ca, and I can hear Angeles, San Bernarddo, Los Podres, and Now Porterville USFS Stations. In the VHF High Band areas, like from 167 to 173 MHz. So this can be confusing hearing four different different USFS groups at one time, while scanning and searching thru the frequencies.

I use one scanner to search out these frequencies and another scanner to scan the known frequencies, so I try to stay on top of the activities. I also use a Par Electronics VHF Notch Filter in the antenna coax before the spliter/combiner to feed the two scanners, to notch filter out the 152 to 153 MHz are so that the data transmissions that create the buzz saw intermod is more than significantly reduced. Allowing the VHF band to be used without every other VHF channel hearing that darn buzz saw intermod interference. This filter is part number VHFSYM152HT its avialable at:
http://www.grove-ent.com/filters.html

Monitoring the USFS Air Attack frequencies I even hearing some aircraft 150 miles away reporting fire condations and such, makes it difficult to nail down who is doing what. Looks like I am going to make some VHF High Band Yagi beam antennas, at least give it a shot.

Jay in the Great Mojave Desert. (thats what the real estate guy said)
 
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